Find Your “One Thing”
By John Matheson, MD, FACEP
In the movie City Slickers, Curley (a seasoned old cowboy played by Jack Palance) holds up his index finger and tells Billy Crystal’s character, Mitch, that the secret to life is “just one thing.” Mitch asks him what the one thing is. Curley, smiling, responds “that’s what you have to find out.”
Each of us has something in our life that is of great meaning—something that brings us fulfillment, joy, and satisfaction. Too often, with our busy lives and multiple demands on our time and energy, we focus on other seemingly more urgent issues at the expense of these more meaningful pursuits. Of course, we intend to make time for them as soon as the current crisis has passed. But, we get another urgent email that needs our attention, and other fires flare up that need to be put out. Those activities and endeavors that feed our souls become ignored (or repeatedly postponed) because of all of the other things that have to get done.
As emergency physicians, we have a number of professional demands that we must balance with our families, personal lives, and other endeavors. Each is important. Finding the ideal balance that satisfies all interests is not easy and often might not seem possible. Burnout among physicians, unfortunately, is not uncommon as we are asked to do more and more with less and less, and it is particularly significant among emergency physicians. Physician wellness is one of my priorities. I am honored recently to have been named to the national ACEP Well Being Committee, and I look forward to helping find strategies and provide resources for clinicians to help prevent and reduce burnout among emergency physicians.
That “one thing” is different for each of us, but we all need something beyond our careers that brings greater meaning and happiness to our lives. I encourage you to identify what that is for you and then to nurture it. Make it a priority. Schedule it. Avoid the pitfall of allowing the other demands of life and career to overwhelm it. Doing this will bring you greater satisfaction in life and in your career, and it might just add longevity to both